The John Lennon song he wrote to attack his manager

John Lennon was known for putting all of his innermost feelings into songs. Whether it was talking about his love for Yoko Ono or his struggles with his friends and family on Plastic Ono Band, Lennon wasn’t one for sugarcoating his messages to the world. While his ugly side may have shown itself during the end of The Beatles’ tenure, Lennon was equally venomous when going after his manager after the fact.

The germ of the Fab Four’s split originated when they lost their manager, Brian Epstein. Steering them through the first half of Beatlemania, Epstein’s sudden death in 1967 cast a dark shadow around where the group would be going next. Although the Beatles were convinced they could manage themselves for the first few years, their need for someone in the office led to a wedge between Paul McCartney and the other three.

While McCartney wanted to hire his father-in-law, John Eastman, the rest of the group thought that Allen Klein was the best way to go. Since McCartney’s decision would have been a conflict of interest considering his relationship with Linda Eastman, the band decided to put Klein in charge of their affairs. Little did they know how much of a scoundrel Klein would prove to be.

Having done time working with The Rolling Stones, Klein was looking to suck every piece of goodwill out of the band as he could, only focusing on the dollars at the end of the check rather than the group’s well-being. After the band fell apart following McCartney’s announcement of their breakup, Lennon was furious with his former writing partner, penning ‘How Do You Sleep’ from Imagine as a deliberate attack against McCartney.

Once all the paperwork was still being finalised, Lennon started to realise that he may have made a mistake. Coupled with his improper financial affairs, the other Beatles were also having problems with Klein, going through various court hearings, and George Harrison wondered if all the proceeds for his Concert For Bangladesh were actually going to the right people.

After one too many fallouts, Lennon ended up cutting ties with Klein around the same time he was writing material for Walls and Bridges. Now separated from Yoko Ono as well, Lennon penned ‘Steel and Glass’ as a deliberate attack on Klein. With a new target, the peace-and-love Lennon is nowhere to be found in this song, setting his caustic words for Klein to a slow funk groove.

Though Lennon never admitted that the song was about Klein, the lyrics detail different pieces of the pair’s life, from the LA tan that Klein supposedly had to the fast-talking New York attitude that he came across as having when conducting business meetings. Considering their history, Lennon could also hit below the belt, making casual digs at Klein’s mother, who had passed away when he was just a child.

Aside from the harsh words, Lennon also left a subtle Easter egg in the song’s instrumentation. Recycling one of his songwriting tricks, the guitar riff in the chorus is similar to the riff in the chorus of ‘How Do You Sleep’. Lennon may have exhausted his negative energy towards McCartney back in the day, but it was only fitting to use that caustic riff against the man that turned The Beatles against each other.

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